|American Bison (Public Domain)|
Once upon a time, there were about 30 million American buffalo that roamed the Great Plains.
After years of government-led extermination, 23 (that’s twenty-three, not a typo) were still alive in 1920.
After subsequent years of “sophisticated management practices,” 400,000-plus bison exist today. Note the term “bison.” It often denotes an animal that has been bred by ranchers for meat, containing “a mix of bison and cattle DNA.”
Joby Warrick of The Washington Post reports that today’s “largest population of wild bison anywhere” can be found in Yellowstone National Park. This might be good news, except for the political overtones. Whereas “wildlife enthusiasts” and some Native American groups wish to extend the home in which the bison roam, others are adamantly against such expansion.
Naysayers include many cattlemen, who fear that free-roaming bison can infect their herds with the dreaded brucellosis. They oppose any such talk about “re-wilding the West” with bison and/or wolves that can infiltrate their ranches.
Copyright September 3, 2015 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved